Essential Quality is the Early Favorite for the 2021 Kentucky Derby

February 2, 2021

May 1st is the date every horse racing fan needs to put into their diary because that’s when the 147th Kentucky Derby takes place at the world-famous Churchill Downs. Up to 20 elite horses leave the starting gate in what is billed as the most exciting two minutes in sports. Essential Quality is the early favourite, can he live up to the hype?

Everyone in the horse racing industry looks forward to the Kentucky Derby with anticipation. From the stable boy to the jockeys, and those hoping to win big betting at, the Kentucky Derby is a magical occasion.

Essential Quality is one horse capable of producing magic and it is clear for all to see why he is the early favourite to win this year’s race. Essential Quality is currently priced between +800 and +1000 depending on where you look thanks to an incredible start to the Godolphin Stables colt’s career.

He first ran at Churchill Downs over six furlongs in September 2020 and finished in first place with a time of 1:09.98. His second race came a month later at Keeneland where he romped home over 1 1/16 miles.

  1. Essential Quality Wins Breeders’ Cup Juvenile

Essential Quality’s third race and third consecutive victory came to Keeneland in the TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance on November 6. He started slightly off the pace but forged ahead Hot Rod Charlie in the final sixteenth.

Jockey Luis Saez was full of praise for Essential Quality after his impressive come-from-behind third win.

“I had the perfect trip, a beautiful trip. I knew there was going to be a lot of speed so we were in the right spot. At the three-eights pole, he gave me that kick so I knew we had a chance to win the race. He can run all day.”

The third win on the spin earned Essential Quality a career-best 103 Equibase Speed Figure, a vast improvement on the 85 he achieved in his four-length debut at Churchill Downs a couple of months earlier.

As mentioned, bookmakers fancy Essential Quality’s chances of glory in the 2021 Kentucky Derby, so much so that they have overvalued him. They know punters will pile onto him because of his results and are protecting themselves just in case he makes it four wins from four starts.

  1. Question Marks Over Kentucky Derby Pedigree

Essential Quality comes from good stock but dam Delightful Quality was really a sprinter who was not really suited to the Kentucky Derby track. Delightful Quality’s only two-turn victory came in the 2005 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.

That said, Contrail, this year’s Japanese Triple Crown winner, is closely related on his dam’s side and is undefeated in seven starts, including a win in the Japanese St. Leger that runs over 1 7/8 miles.

Another reason bookmakers fear a lot of money going on Essential Quality is the fact he’s already beaten several horses set to run in this year’s Kentucky Derby.

Keepmeinmind and Hot Rod Charlie will head to Churchill Downs knowing they were well-beaten by Essential Quality in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in November. Jackie’s Warrior was unbeaten before that race and went off as the favorite but ultimately crossed the line in fourth place.

  1. Is He Racing Again Before The Kentucky Derby?

We hope to see Essential Quality in action before the Kentucky Derby so we can make another assessment. He’s pencilled in to race at either the Risen Star – G2 in February or the Southwest Stakes – G3 on February 15 although he is not confirmed to compete.

Life Is Good is another horse fancied for Kentucky Derby glory. Like Essential Quality, it is unbeaten although over two races. It won over 6.5 furlongs at Del Mar in November and again over one miles at Santa Anita. There are question marks, however, over the horse’s ability to keep up the pace over the 1 ¼ mile Kentucky Derby track.


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